Over at the Weekly Standard (motto: Palin was our idea!), Fred Barnes has penned a laughable early Valentine our most recent ex-president, ticking off W’s top ten (“at least”!) “achievements,” all of which, according to Barnes, were driven by the man’s unflinching courage. Included on Barnes’ list:
• Unlike most politicians, Bush had the courage to significantly increase the federal government’s role in the public schools. Ballsy!
• Bush had the courage to torture people!
• Bush courageously pandered to seniors by signing the prescription drug benefit, the largest new federal entitlement program in 40 years. Hey, it takes guts to tell the most active and politically powerful voting age group that you want to give them free stuff.
• Bush bravely fought to vastly expand his own power, and to govern in secrecy. Unheard of!
• When his disastrous war in Iraq began to implode, Bush fought to save his reputation by calling for more troops and more money. What fortitude!
Bush was an opportunist. “Courageous” is about the last word I’d use to describe him. One of his first major policy announcements was to ditch his free trade principles in favor of steel tariffs–payback to the blue-collar voters who helped him carry West Virginia. He likes to credit himself for fighting for private Social Security accounts, but he dropped the plan the moment it became politically unpopular. He cut taxes. He fought wars. He spent ungodly amounts of money. Those are all about the most popular things a president can do. Yes, Bush stuck to the war in Iraq well after it become politically unpopular, but only because the alternative was to go down in history as one of the few presidents to lose a war.
Is it too late for Bush to give Barnes some sort of medal?